4G application day arrives

Mobile operators wanting to apply to take part in Ofcom’s spectrum auction have to submit their bids before the regulator kicks off the process

The one day on offer for mobile operators to submit their bids for Ofcom’s 4G spectrum auction is here – Tuesday 11 December.

The providers have had weeks to prepare the tenders, but will only have until 4pm on the 11th to file them with Ofcom before the qualification process begins.

This period will enable the regulator to sort through the bids and carry out a series of checks to ensure the applications are suitable.

Ofcom then plans to release a list of those able to take part in the auction, which a spokesman from the regulator said “would hopefully be before Christmas,” but if not then “early next year.”

All of the major UK operators are expected to put bids in for the spectrum, but rumours the likes of Virgin Media and BSkyB could enter the battle have left the industry on tenterhooks.

Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, claimed the auction would bring in £3.5bn for the government and included the figure in his autumn statement budget, despite the fact the application deadline hadn’t even been reached.

The spokesman said Ofcom had been carefu” not to put a number on how much it expected the auction to raise, adding: “We are conducting this auction in a way that is best for the consumer. Raising money for the Treasury has never been a consideration for us.”

Despite the deadline being tomorrow, the assignment stage where providers are told what spectrum they have won is not expected until either February or March, followed by the “grant stage” where they have to pay up. This means 4G services running on the frequencies are also not expected until at least May or June 2013.

Read more on Mobile networks